A Lesson From Petrified Wood

On Wednesday, our last full day in Napa, the group visited geysers and The Petrified Forest in Calistoga, CA. We were led along a beautiful trail by our knowledgable tour guide, Janet, whose family owns the park, and offers discounts to educational groups such as ours. Janet informed us that the wood became petrified approximately 3.4 million years ago when a volcano errupted, covering the forest in glassy lava. The wood remains preserved, and has now taken on the feel of rock. It is hard to beleive until you touch the rock itself. As I reflect back on the day, I am struck by the vastness and age of the land around us.

So much has happened in the healthcare world around us in just the past 200 years, and is a reminder that time presents opportunity for infinite changes and improvements to be made. This week we have been privileged to have a number of brave men and women share their first hand accounts of how medical errors have impacted and changed their lives directly. These stories offer a humbling perspective on all of the changes and improvements we have yet to make, yet I am comforted by the fact that in comparison to the petrified wood, the modern healthcare system is still so new. That is not to say we need not approach flaws in our medical system with a necessary haste and intention of correcting obvious flaws in the system, it is to say that ten years from now, or hopefully sooner, patient harm will be reduced from approximately 400,000 deaths a year due to preventable medical errors to zero. After our trip to The Petrified Forest, I chose to view this challenge with a vision of hope and belief that the change will happen.

Thank you to all of the speakers who engaged us in conversation this week. It is your time, passion, and committment to helping educate the next generation of health care providers that will help us change the healthcare delivery system. I will carry the stories of your love ones in my heart, and at the forefront of my mind, as a I continue to practice as a Registered Nurse, honoring their memory, as myself and my peers strive to eliminate preventable patient harm.

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